Doctor Who writer Terrance Dicks dies aged 84 as tributes paid to ‘magnificent storyteller’ | Ents & Arts News

Doctor Who writer and script editor Terrance Dicks has died aged 84.

The author and producer wrote for the long-running TV science fiction series from 1968 to 1983.

His agent confirmed he passed away following a short illness on Thursday.

A gathering of Doctors (L-R): Richard Hurndall (who played the late William Hartnell), Peter Davidson, a  model of Tom Baker, John Pertwee and Patrick Troughton
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Cast of The Five Doctors in 1983 (L-R): Richard Hurndall (who played the late William Hartnell), Peter Davidson, a model of Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton

Current producer and showrunner of Doctor Who said: “The lights of Doctor Who are dimmer tonight with the passing of Terrance Dicks.

“He was one of the greatest contributors to Doctor Who’s history, on-screen and off. As writer and script editor, he was responsible for some of the show’s greatest moments and iconic creations.

“As the most prolific and brilliant adaptor of Doctor Who stories into Target novels, he was responsible for a range of books that taught a generation of children, myself included, how pleasurable and accessible and thrilling reading could be.”

Children’s author Steve Cole wrote: “I know how many authors he inspired, and how many millions he entertained as a writer, script-editor, producer and raconteur. I first met him at a library talk when I was eight and edited his final short story this year.”

Impressionist and comedian Jon Culshaw called him “a magnificent author, script editor and storyteller” who was “always charming and absolutely fascinating to talk to”.

Fellow Doctor Who writer Jenny Colgan wrote: “Terrance Dicks helped more children (especially boys) develop a lifelong love of reading than almost anyone else who’s ever lived. I don’t think he even got an OBE.”

As one of the original writers of the show, Dicks was once described by the Doctor Who News Page “arguably the most prolific contributor to Doctor Who”.

Starting off as an assistant script editor, he was promoted to head script editor of the classic BBC show after just a year.

He wrote for the second Doctor played by Patrick Troughton, the third, Jon Pertwee, and the fourth, Tom Baker.

The 1983 episode titled The Five Doctors, which celebrated the show’s 20th anniversary and featured Troughton and Pertwee in reprising their original roles, was perhaps his best loved work.

Tom Baker, who played the Fourth Doctor, amid the Daleks in 1974
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Tom Baker – the Fourth Doctor – amid the Daleks in 1974

Dicks also adapted the TV series into a series of over 60 books, and co-wrote a history of the production of the show The Making of Doctor Who.

Additionally he wrote two stage plays of the show – Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday (1974) and Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure (1989).

An audio drama he produced featured former Doctor’s companion Sarah Jane Smith – the first time a female side-kick had been given notable prominence.

Dicks thought there was 'too much sex' in some of the later episodes
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Terrance Dicks thought there was ‘too much sex’ in some of the later episodes, including one where actor Matt Smith tried to kiss his sidekick

In a 2013 interview Dicks explained what he believed was behind Doctor Who’s longevity, telling The Register: “I’ve always said that the reason for its success is its variety.

“The show constantly undergoes change, whether major or minor – getting a new Doctor, the changing companions – and if it’s working it just carries you along.

“It evolves like a living thing, in fact, but the continuity and the central thread of the show is the Doctor, who is always the Doctor, with the same characteristics and attitudes, ideals and morals.”

However, there was one development he wasn’t a fan of, complaining in 2016 that there was too much sex on the early evening show.

It’s thought he was referring to a 2010 episode where Doctor’s companion Amy Pond, played by Karen Gillan, attempted to kiss the eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith.

Away from Doctor Who, Dicks also wrote for Crossroads, The Avengers and BBC period dramas including Vanity Fair.

His final short story Save Yourself will be published next month in BBC Books’ Doctor Who: The Target Storybook.

Dicks leaves behind his wife Elsa and three sons.

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